Headless cemetary statue, no icon. Last year I swore I’d know how to do this by the time it came up again… don’t you guys think the above would make an awesome disability blog carnival icon?

Last year’s carnival wasn’t quite about birth, just yet, and appropriately this year’s tackles the subject of death from one of the most death-shy people you’ll ever meet. As I mentioned recently to a friend, I’m that life-at-all-costs jackass who harumphs when someone decides they’re too goddamned tired for their fifth round of chemo, who has made sure everyone around me knows yes, I would too want to live like that, and who has no patience for the idea of bowing out gracefully so as to avoid being a burden. I’m all about being a burden, as my husband and children will attest.

Nonetheless, I have a death fascination of sorts. For a long time, I thought quite a bit about becoming a funeral director (although I don’t think I have anough of a grasp on the realities of that particular job) and half of studying religion is studying how to die.

The other half, at least presumably, has something to do with spirituality, which is another theme for this Carnival.

Death

Spirituality.

End-of-Life “issues.”

Most of the the disability bloggers I’ve read have, with varying degrees of eloquence, had to tackle those issues, and on the whole have managed to do so with grace, honesty, wit and sometimes anger. In their own words, then

It isn’t nice and sweet, this carnival. To begin, we’re going to take a look at the case of Esmin Green, who, as Day in Wshington reminds us, had a name other than “mentally ill woman.” Harlan Ellison once said that no-one should go into the ground with too few words spoken, and Stephen Kuusisto of Planet of the Blind has a few to say about Ms. Green’s death. I thank him.

I don’t think there are enough words for the death of Harriet McBride Johnson. Certainly, the ones that occurred to me seemed trite and inadequate–“hero,” “inspiration,” “courage”–all true, but a bit too telethon-ese for that particular warrior. Thus, I’m going to let Kay Olson at the Gimp Parade speak for me, in her wonderful tribute to Harriet’s life and work.

In Secondhand Smoke, the issue of disabled lives continues to be debated in a hot discussion about Delaware’s proposed resolution protecting cognitively disabled people from euthanasia–and an argument about the term “brain death” (and how it is often confused and conflated with static encephelopathy and PVS) follows in the comments section.

End-of-life issues come to the fore as cherylberyl blogs her ambivalence in a post on disaboom called Would I Want to Live? I really like her style of writing, its very young and fresh without being cloying, and she puts a lot of things that I’ve thought myself in a calm and simple order.

In her raw and honest letter, Ruth at Mom’s Musings looks at how some of the same questions can be asked at the beginning of life, and how those in authority might not be ready to hear the answers. This one is a must-read; I’ve been hoping to see more parents of children with disabilities participate in these carnivals. Ruth is a wonderful discovery.

Another post relating to children: from Adventures in Daily Living, an imaginary phone call that tells the whole story, Meanwhile, Kristina Chew at Autism Vox asks the hard, but essential, questions about “independence” that will shape her son’s future. On the subject of childhood, Disability Nation takes a look at the new “disability dolls.” For the record, I like them very much. I don’t have an ideological explanation for that, I just… like them. It’s a doll thing, I suppose.

Two post by Bint at My Private Casbah are of interest to the topic. In Don’t Call me Differently Abled, she discussed how the saccharine euphemizing (my term, not hers) in the Differently-Abled label actually depersonalizes disabled people by refusing to acknowledge their reality. Also, in a post on Meals on Wheels cutbacks, she gives a harsh dose of reality about the life-or-death need seniors have for these programs.

Emma at Writings of a Wheelchair Princess has written specifically for this carnival, and has done a marvelous job. Her post on the Three D’s is extremely powerful, and includes a wonderful quote that she (rightly) feels is relevant to this entire carnival.

At Touched By an Alien, Laura affirms life, with a post on the best time of her life. Something about this short entry brought home to me exactly how evanescent any “best time” really is–another reason I decided to host this carnival, I suppose.

Paula at E is for Epilepsy also agrees that one cannot learn to die who has not learned to live (yes, that’s totally backwards, remember this is me putting together a late blog carnival while trying to read about redaction criticism) and for Paula, education is the key to a life well lived.

Frida Writes has a post on how issues of sexism affect women’s health and survival, both in the diagnostic process and in their actual survival rates. Women, she points out, are more often told to “think positive” and at the same time often have their symptoms dismissed as being all in their heads. I’ve experienced this myself; many of the female disability bloggers I’ve met (particularly we sickies) have a long history of being patted on the head and being treated for depression, only to later, when the indisputable facts of illness are laid out bare, be told that our positive attitudes will make all the difference.

Elizabeth McClung at Screw Bronze has decided to tell her positive attitude where to go in Angry, one of several important–and immortal–posts she’s made this month. I have to include more than one Elizabeth link here, because the carnival also needs her Letter #1 on Dying, which includes, in the comments page, a startlingly insensitive but genuinely-felt rant on giving up from yours truly–Elizabeth may be a boxer, but I’m the world champion in unsolicited advice for my weight and size.

None of us, whatever decision we make, are taking the easy way out; if there is one, I’ve yet to find it. One of my favorite blogs, I Trust When Dark My Road, contains a recent post “Longing for the Fleshpots of Egypt” about despair as disability, and just how elusive that “easy way” really is.

I include Pentimento’s post on Margaret Sanger, the culture of death, and individualistic spirituality, because the ideas she expresses touch on many of the things I see in the other posts included here. While not disabled herself, the author of this blogs has confronted loss with both gracefulness and grace. I don’t expect everyone to agree with her summation of the New Age movement or her appraisal of Sanger, but whatever one’s political, social or religious beliefs might be, the issue of eugenics in modern culture is one from which people with disabilities cannot hide.

I’m closing this carnival with a post on the funeral rites for Emperor Norton. Although the piece touches on Norton’s disability, asking why other mentally ill San Franciscans were locked away while an attempt to have the Emperor involuntarily committed nearly had the city in mutiny–it isn’t the full disability-studies treatment that Norton deserves. Maybe one of us will write that one.

Thanks to all of you for letting me host again. This isn’t quite the carnival I wanted it to be–I wanted something of my own here, and I wanted a chance to really delve around the blogosphere finding hidden gems–but school intervened, and I hope I haven’t disappointed too terribly.